Richard D. Little: Time to celebrate county’s armored mud balls

Jurassic armored mud balls can be found on the side of this boulder at Greenfield Community College.

Jurassic armored mud balls can be found on the side of this boulder at Greenfield Community College. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 01-21-2024 8:00 AM

Dear readers: You don’t need a geology course to visualize dinosaurs! Two hundred million years ago, the Connecticut River Valley was indeed “Jurassic Park” in a great rift valley similar to the famous ones of east Africa today. Podokesaurus, our new state dinosaur, roamed here, seeking fish along lakes and rivers.

Occasional floods sometimes tumbled eroded blocks of hard mud downstream toward the lake shore. The rolling mud blocks became round and streambed pebbles attached to their rim. These very rare “armored mud balls,” now turned to stone, have been discovered in our Valley’s “red rock” sedimentary layers. Franklin County is the only place in the world where they can be easily seen!

The Greenfield Community College Geology Path displays the best collection. Go there to see six large rock-quarry specimens revealing 20 balls of various sizes from golf ball to basketball. “Jurassic armored mud balls” may join Podokesaurus and dinosaur footprints (our state fossil) and become an official state sedimentary structure if House Bill H 3129 is successful. The lead sponsor is state Rep. Susannah Whipps, with local co-sponsors state Reps. Natalie Blais and Lindsay Sabadosa as well as state Sens. Jo Comerford and Paul Mark. Other co-sponsors are being solicited.

Take a minute to contact your state legislators to support this effort. Without official recognition the amusing, photogenic, and rare armored mud balls will likely become forgotten. It is important to save and celebrate them for science education and our deep-history heritage.

For more details please see the website or contact Professor Richard Little,

Richard D. Little

Professor emeritus of Greenfield Community College and chairman of the H 3129 working group, Easthampton

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